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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
ORIGINAL ARTICLES CRITICAL AND INTENSIVE THERAPY
Minerva Anestesiologica 2001 January-February;67(1-2):71-8
Deaths with acute cerebral lesion and heart-beating potential organ donors in the Veneto Region
Procaccio F., Barbacini S., Meroni M., Sarpellon M., Verlato R., Giron G. P.
On behalf of the Working Group of the Fondazione per l’Incremento dei Trapianti d’Organo (FITO)* Veneto, Italy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background. The study was aimed at describing the clinical characteristics of dead patients with acute cerebral lesion and analyzing reasons of the shortage of heart-beating potential organ donors in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in the Veneto Region.
Methods. Data have been prospectively recorded in 23 ICUs over six months for deceased patients with acute cerebral lesion (clinical data, death diagnosis) and for any potential organ donor (medical suitability, family interview, organ retrieval).
Results. In the ICUs of the Veneto Region in 1998 deceased patients with acute cerebral lesion were 187 per million population (p.m.p.); 317 cases have been studied. Median age was 64 years (range 7-93). Heart-beating death was legally confirmed only in 98/317 cases (31%) against a clinical diagnosis of brain death in 203/317 (64%). Only 82/317 (26%) were considered eligible donors and 48/317 (15%) became real donors (22.8 p.m.p.). Among the remaining 235 cadavers, 105 were over 70 years old. In the group of 130 under 70 years absolute contraindications were present only in 30 and “problematical” clinical situations were reported in 100.
Conclusions. The number of deaths with acute cerebral lesion represents a sensible index and a key factor for evaluating the potential organ donor pool in small regions and in the single intensive care unit. Collected data demonstrate that in the Veneto Region the efficiency of solid organ retrieval can be improved and that organ donor shortage may depend, beyond family refusal, on clinical and cultural factors that hamper stabilized heart-beating deaths. Most potential donors with age over 70 or “problematical” clinical situations are preventively excluded by ICUs’ physicians. To improve organ donation all the patients who die in spite of neuro-intensive treatment should be prevented from circulatory arrest to permit legal declaration of death. Thus more potential organ donors without absolute contraindications could be recovered and time would exist for discussing any problematical situation with experts in organ procurement, particularly in respect to existing urgencies in the waiting list.